Matt Webb runs the rule over some of Palace's squad players and where their futures lie.
It is safe to say that Crystal Palace are now an established Premier League team, despite their recent dip in form the likelihood of Palace sustaining Premier League status for a 4th successive season is extremely high.
One of the more romantic elements of Palace’s recent success story is that there has been a core group of players that have risen to the challenge and continued as first team team regulars from the Championship, through promotion and to this present day. Damien Delaney, Yannick Bolasie, Wilfried Zaha and Joel Ward played in the Play off final in 2013 and when Alan Pardew picks his team on Saturday they will be some of the first names he selects.
Unfortunately, with the squad continually improving, some players will sadly not make the cut. Let’s take a look at some of those players who find themselves on the fringe of the first team.
Former England international striker, Fraizer Campbell was brought to the club by Tony Pulis in 2014, but with Pulis notoriously leaving before the season began, Campbell never played for his manager. I spoke to Pulis shortly before he left Palace and he told me the reason he signed Campbell was “because the boy gets goals”. Unfortunately for Campbell and Palace he hasn’t provided the goal threat Pulis had hoped for, netting only 4 goals in 27 appearances for the Eagles. With 18 months remaining on his contract and having added Emmanuel Adebayor to the squad, don’t be surprised to see Alan Pardew off load him this transfer window.
Signed by Ian Holloway at the start of Palace’s first season in the Premier League, the former Arsenal man was arguably Holloway’s most successful signing for Palace. Originally considered a striker, Chamakh was played to great success by Pulis behind Dwight Gayle in the number 10 role. Chamakh’s extremely high work rate and his undoubted class on the ball have led him to become a fan favourite. Unfortunately, consistent hamstring injuries have recently hampered his contribution and with his contract up at the end of the season and reportedly on high wages, his future at the club will be questioned.
Verdict: JURY STILL OUT
Probably unknown to many Palace fans, Zeki Fryers was bought by Neil Warnock on Transfer Deadline Day in 2014 from Tottenham Hotspur for an undisclosed fee believed to have been in the region of £3m. Warnock hoped that Fryers would be the answer to the left back conundrum that had been a problem position for Palace ever since promotion. However, one and half seasons on and Fryers has only made one appearance for the Eagles and with Pape Souare and Adrian Mariappa above him in the pecking order there doesn’t seem to much of a future for the enigmatic left back at Selhurst Park.
Signed by Ian Holloway for £4.5m from Peterborough United to boost Palace’s attacking options in the Premier League, Gayle’s rise to top flight football was quite remarkable. Only 12 months before signing for Palace, Gayle was playing non league football for Bishop’s Storford. Gayle is a pacy striker and since signing has become one of the club’s most lethal finishers.
He will always be remembered by Palace fans for his wonderful brace against Liverpool when Palace fought back from 3-0 down to secure a 3-3 draw now famously dubbed ‘Crystanbul’ which prevented Liverpool from lifting the title. While Gayle doesn’t fit terribly well with Palace’s one up top formation, preferring to run on to knock-ons from a bigger striking partner in a 4-4-2 formation - he does provide a great option from the bench.
There have been rumours this week that clubs such as Swansea and Norwich City have shown an interest, while Gayle undoubtedly has more to offer than Campbell, he will also command a higher transfer fee, something that Pardew may find hard to turn down if he need to raise the revenue to bring more players in.
Verdict: STAY (Unless big money is used towards a genuine improvement up front)
Another Pulis signing that never played under Pulis. Hangeland was brought in on a free transfer after his contract expired at the newly relegated Fulham. Hangeland has been an able back up to the center defence pairing of Dann and Delaney and has even notched a few goals for the Eagles.
He earned cult status at Selhurst Park for his towering performances on the pitch but also for his down to Earth personality, not least demonstrated by often riding the train home after matches with the fans. Hangeland’s contract expires this summer at which time he will be 35 years old and while he’s never been blessed with pace it may prove to be one year too many for the big Norwegian.
Verdict: JURY STILL OUT
A reliable central midfielder brought in during the January 2014 transfer window that also saw the arrival of Scott Dann, Wayne Hennessey and Tom Ince. Ledley had an immediate impact in the team scoring on his debut in the 3-1 defeat of West Brom. A likeable figure for his tenacity and work rate on the field, Ledley has formed a strong midfield partnership with James McArthur and Mile Jedinak over the last couple of seasons.
However, since the addition of Yohan Cabaye last summer, Ledley has seen his game time decrease and he is often sat on the bench alongside Jedinak with Cabaye and McArthur preferred. Having qualified for Euro 2016 with Wales, Ledley may grow concerned that his lack of regular first team football could impact his selection for this summer’s tournament. But with Pardew preferring two central holding midfielders, this is a position Palace need strength in depth and Ledley provides quality cover for Cabaye and McArthur.